The Detroit Lions have purportedly needed help at cornerback for what seems like forever. They also have lost two prominent defensive ends (Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch) this off-season, however, and they just happened to coach up one of the 2013 NFL Draft's highest-upside players at the Senior Bowl in January. With that player plus the draft's top corner on the board, the Lions could have a difficult - yet positive - decision to make on draft day.
|5. Detroit Lions
||Ezekiel Ansah, BYU||DE||6'5"
Sean Yuille: "When it comes to landing one of the truly elite players at the top of this draft, this is really the worst-case scenario for the Lions. Especially with Jeff Backus retiring, the best option for the Lions by far is Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. With both of them off the board, it’s on to 'Plan B.'
"In this case, the backup plan for the Lions is BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. The Lions got to see him up close as the coaches of his team at the Senior Bowl, and he was one of the top performers in that game. He has only elevated his stock since then with an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, and while he may be a raw player, he’s got a lot of potential. Combine that with the Lions’ absolute lack of depth at defensive end and he’s a good match for them at No. 5. It’s a bit of a risk for sure, but the reward could be quite big for the Lions.
"The other main option here was Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, but I went with Ansah instead. I know it’s a popular opinion that the Lions are in dire need of help at cornerback, but don’t believe everything you read. The Lions have one starting spot filled with Chris Houston being re-signed, and the three cornerbacks they drafted last year will be in the mix for the other spot, along with Ron Bartell, who was signed at the end of last season. It’s true that their cornerback play needs to be much better, but when it comes to positions of need, defensive end is higher on the list than cornerback, and it’s not really close."
Here's our own Dan Kadar to break down the pick:
There’s nothing wrong with adding a player like Ansah. He’s highly talented and capable of eventually replacing the departed Cliff Avril. But like many defensive players in the draft this year, he’s still developing as a pass rusher. So also like many others, Ansah’s upside potential is high. Comparatively, though, it’s just a matter of how long it will take Ansah to reach his potential. At BYU, Ansah was much better getting after the run than consistently generating a pass rush. If he takes time to develop, making little impact as a rookie, Detroit could be in for another long season defensively. Another bad season and general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz could be out. Do they take a risk on such a raw player with the fifth overall pick? If not, Milliner makes sense here as well. But if they take Ansah, Detroit’s key decision makers have to hope they’re right.
Top 5 Players Remaining
|4||Dee Milliner *||CB||Alabama||6'0"||201|
|5||Sheldon Richardson *||DT||Missouri||6'3"||294|
|6||Barkevious Mingo *||DE/OLB||LSU||6'4"||241|